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for the Blind

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Does the Cane Have to Be White to Be Effective?

By Dona Sauerburger

Canes for Outdoor Travel

When used properly, a cane can provide information and protection, regardless of its color – it does not have to be white to be effective. Most canes used by blind people are white, but they are also available in red, black, yellow, and blue; for example, these canes from AmbuTech are available in a range of colors:

Photo of AmbuTech cane colors

However, only a white cane identifies the user as a person who is blind or has low vision. This can be an important consideration when crossing streets and requesting information from store clerks, bus drivers, and the general public. It's likely that people will be more willing to help if they realize you're asking for information because you are blind or have low vision.

About "White Cane Laws"

Many people are under the impression that each state?s White Cane Law contains a provision that requires drivers to stop for, and/or yield to, pedestrians who are carrying white canes. This is not correct. The laws in each state vary widely and drivers do not always reliably stop for pedestrians who carry white canes.

When drivers see pedestrians who are carrying white canes:

  • Some states require that drivers yield.
  • Some states require drivers to come to a full stop.
  • Some states require only that drivers exercise caution when in the presence of pedestrians with white canes.
  • Some states provide no special rights and protections to pedestrians who are carrying white canes that are not provided to all pedestrians.

Check your state's White Cane Law to determine the language that describes driver and pedestrian rights and responsibilities.

For more information about the history of White Cane Laws in the United States, see Pedestrian Safety Laws at the American Council of the Blind website.

(Photo credit: AmbuTech. Used with permission.)

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